Autumndale trees appear to be large and magnificent hickory trees caught in the full brightest turn of autumn color. This is their appearance all year through. They are never green, nor ever bare. They defy mortal weather.
The Autumndales, like hickories, are large trees which tend to form upright, cylindrical crowns when grown in the open. They have pronounced taproots which securely anchor the trees, so they are never displaced once grown (and they secure the soft soil so it will not slide if on a hillside).
The leaves are broad and somewhat round. These odd pinnately compound leaves which are aromatic when crushed. They change through the year, cycling between red, orange, yellow, gold, amber, and back to red. The leaves will occasionally drop leaves all year round, but the tree is never sparse or bare.
Unlike hickories, they bare no nuts. They create a tough seed pod that is 1' diameter (2cms) and covered in spiky points. These litter the areas under the trees, making barefoot walking anywhere near them painful.
The wood tends to be strong and resilient. Even with these properties, it is seldom used to build, but is used to make musical instruments. (A famous fiddle and string instrument makers, one Cepetius by name, made hundreds of instruments of this wood. They are known for their deep sad sounds.) Mostly it is used to flavor meat while smoking or barbecuing. It's strong dark smoke adds a nearly perfect tang to meat.
The origin of the Autumndale Tree helps to explain its unique 'everautumn' properties. These are fey trees from the other side of the veil. They come from the domains of The Autumn King.
The Domain of the Autumn King is much like you would expect. It is a place of eternal autumn, much like the IceQueen's realm is every winter. It is a place of harvest and the sharp cold of transitions. While mostly filled with Satyrs and Fawns, there is a strong contingence of goblins and Redcaps there. Also many devious fey which world walk on Samhain make their home in the Autumn realms.
The Autumn King fancied himself a Grand Fey, a ruler of equal rank of the masters of the Seelie and Unseelie court. He despised the every vacillating Fey Crown. He felt it passed over others of great worth, such as himself.
In an attempt to solidify his power, he attempted to expand his domain into the material realms. He created trodways (pathways to the mortal realms, exiting in vague gates) to the mortal world and re-opened paths long closed. His scouts extended his power into the realms by spreading Autumndale trees. Within a decade or three, the areas around the gate points were filled with autumn power.
The trees are empowered by trickles of power from his domain, so they never have to bow to time or become mortal trees.
While the tree's fed of his realm, they also empowered it by bringing in mortal energies to his realm. With that energy he became strong and cocky. He challenged the Masters of the Court.
Of course he lost.
His forces were dispersed. His powers diminished. He was banished from the Summer Lands. Most of the trodways were closed by the Fey Foresters, though some have found their way open since then. So now he broods in his realm, licking his metaphorical and physical wounds.
Yet unknown to any, his plan continues. The seeds planted in the mortal realm continue to spread. They continue to extend his 'command' in that realm and mortal energies still flow to him. His followers trickle back to his domains. Someday, he will rise up again. A wiser and more cunning Autumn King will be victorious. The Fey realms and much of the mortal realms will be under his control. Some day... some day.
Note: Where is a large stand of Autumndale trees, it is more likely that there will be fey, odd creatures, and gateways/ trodways to their realms in the vicinity. Even if the gate was closed, some fey might still be trapped on the mortal side of the gate.
Inspiration for this post
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? Responses (16)
The first thought I had was to create the inanimae/dryads that might come from these trees, followed by some sort of hybrid changeling tree. Who knows, maybe they could cross-pollinate with local trees of very close relation.
As The Autumn King's power grows, all the trees in the area, who had some fey pollen in their 'sap line', would become Autumndale trees of the various types. They might not actually need to cross pollenate, they could just slowly engulf the other trees... imagine a pine tree (or other evergreen) in these colors.
If we had a nursery rhyme or something that embodies his possible invasion, some people could actually notice the increase of Autumn trees and become worried. Who needs an Evil Dark Lord, when you can have a vaguely amoral, slightly alien, mastermind strive to take over your world?
This is another tree that allow those with Woodscraft skills to seem 'overly knowledable'. They could see the Autumdale Stands (make their check) and know to be on the lookout for Fey creatures and possibly a trodway.
At first it looked like a 3.5: A solid contribution. The addition of the autumn king and the powers of autumn is very good. I like this, it creates a whole new dimension to forest adventures.
I will definitely use this!
I really like these. Like Scras, I was thinking this was going to be just another 'fill the background' plant. However, thinking about AG's praise heaped upon it, I knew something was different, so I read on. I think you did an excellent job of explaining these and giving them a good story. 5/5
This I like...plants that are more then part of the scenary.
I really like these trees and the concepts you've spun here. Definitely something I'm going to be incorporating into my own campaign pretty soon. This post has so much potential.
MoonHunter: This post is so awesome. It has such depth once you begin to think about it. I get all kinds of vibes: Twilight zone forests, malevolent forests, Ent forests, fairy tale forests, mythical forests... All these merge and combine into your magnificent post. For me this is your best non-system/article post ever (though some of the Kerren stuff is very close).
I do think it can be difficult for people, especially inexperienced GMs, to spot the potential in this one though. If you are going to publish this in another context I suggest you provide examples to the readers to really show how incredibly beautiful and multi-faceted this submission really is!
This seems to be one of those world defining concepts that add life and a heartbeat to a world setting. To witness this first hand would be an amazing thing for the players, especially should one of them have some knowledge of them as you said Moon. I love it.
This sub is so lovely that I am left speechless except to say I will definitely use it.
Hear ye! I even nominated it for a golden. MoonHunter usually has... ehm... more technical stuff but this is his absolute best piece. In my book at least.
I felt bad for you after reading your city post so I thought I would give you a boost else where. This is a beautiful piece of fluff and a fun story. It wouldn't matter if tree's really were magical, this could be the mythos that goes with them. Sometimes cheese is good.
Making it "lengenday" rather that real is a perfectly good option. Not everyone needs Shidhe Fey in their campaign.
Of course these trees are a bit harder to explain without the magic, but who knows it could be done it.
What could be fun is that they are "legendary" in a world without magic. Then magic returns. And like so many things, legends turn out to be true.
I read this before, but inexplicably did not vote. Fixing now. A beautiful piece.
The thing I like most about this is that I've never really thought of using trees as a roleplaying vehicle very often. They typically are part of the setting that is simply in the background. Sometimes you'll see a tree that is alive and attacks people, or other times it is a mysterious 'evil' tree that seems to carry bad luck with it. Rarely is it an entire 'species' of tree with a background tied to the setting. Very interesting thoughts.